Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Paisley, Ahern, the Boyne... and the subtle Covenanters reference

It was today's big news event, and I had an invitation but wasnt able to go. (i was however there last time). The new visitor centre at the Battle of the Boyne site is now open to the public, with its interpretation of the battle and the events that led to the Glorious Revolution.

In the midst of the fanfare and symbolic send-off for both men (Ahern retires today, and Paisley in a few weeks' time) here was an interesting subtlety, which I very much doubt that the mainstream media will pick up on.

In an excerpt from his speech reported on the BBC website, Paisley said "The killing times must be ended forever and no tolerance must be given to any who advocate their return."

The Killing Times was of course the brutally murderous crescendo to the "50 Year Struggle" of the Covenanters, which was brought to an end by the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which was finally secured at the Boyne. So Paisley's use of language - linking the Killing Times of the late 1600s with our own more recent "killing times" of terrorism, was very considered... but it's so subtle as to only register with the informed few, some of whom I know are readers of this blog.

However, whilst the Revolution established Presbyterianism as the "state religion" of Scotland, but it didn't acknowledge the Covenants, and led to ongoing divisions within the Presbyterian church.

(I'll try to find the full text of Paisley's speech - it might have more overt Covenanter references than the wee bit that the BBC reported)


Update - the full speech is available online here, but has no explicit Covenanter references at all. Which is probably a good thing...

I also got a phonecall tonight from someone who was there. Is his view, the interpretation in the visitor centre has a pro-Jacobite undercurrent. I don't feel particularly inclined to drive down to see the centre for myself any time soon (would rather be in Scotland hoking around monuments to be honest), but would be interested to hear the views of any readers who do go.